Nico & Vinz have crafted a pure, primal debut album that rejoices in the band’s chosen path while applauding others’ individuality.
The reach of this singer/songwriter duo from Oslo, Norway, had touched several continents with last year’s hit single, “Am I Wrong.”
Black Star Elephant is a continuation of that theme of personal exploration. With a quiet beauty, this generous collection finely hones a social message of humanity in peril.
The album’s ebullience shines through in 21 tracks (including brief interludes) of personal stories brought to life through a freshly cut and bright world-beat sound.
African melodies intersect with brass-band touches that cross over to dance beats. “Thought I Knew” contains dramatic orchestral points, and the chorus chant of the lovely “My Melody” is symbiotic with its funky deep bass.
On “Miracles,” the line “You’ll bring home the trophy if you walk it all the way” might land flat in others’ hands, but Nico and Vinz deftly slip it in, avoiding the dangers of a PSA.
“Homeless” is one of many on Black Star about working life and its chronic struggles, while “Another Day” uses urban rap and dance beats to animate mini-vignettes of children growing up with a TV for a parent.
Black Star Elephant may be recognized as a less subtle but more danceable Graceland for the 21st Century.
Album: Black Star Elephant
Artist: Nico & Vinz
Label: Warner Brothers
Songs: (1) Intro (Interlude) (2) Am I Wrong (3) Last Time (4) Leave Us (Interlude) (5) Know What I'm Not (6) Miracles (7) New In Town (Interlude) (8) My Melody (9) Powerful (Interlude) (10) Another Day (11) People (12) Runnin' (13) Imagine (14) In Your Arms (15) Homeless (16) Lakota (Interlude) (17) Thought I Knew (18) Arrival (Interlude) (19) When the Day Comes (20) Kokadinye (Interlude) (21) Imaa Imaa